Short items

Australia’s two-headed fish

Tests are continuing on two-headed fish larvae that have been found in Queensland, Australia. ’Fish don’t have two heads, they generally have one, and let’s find out why that is the case.’ said Acting Premier Paul Lucas. Chemical run-off from nearby farms is being investigated as a possible cause. 
The Australian, 14 January 2009 

Coffee - the legal LSD? 

People who drink more than seven cups of instant coffee a day are three times more likely to hallucinate than those who drink just one. The drink encourages the body to release more of the hormone cortisol which could be what causes a person to hallucinate. 
BBC News, 14 January 2009 

The pants made me sick 

The fireretardant trousers, or pants, worn by Florida’s firefighters may be giving them heavy metal poisoning. While there is no evidence that the FireWear trousers, which are woven with fibres containing antimony, are causing the poisoning, they are being taken out of use until the culprit is found.  
Palm Beach Post, 12 January 2009  

Britain to store imported gas in salt mines 

The UK government is to spend ?600 million to build vast gas stores in salt caverns under the Irish Sea in a bid to reduce the country’s reliance on unreliable foreign supply lines. The UK can currently only store enough gas to last 15 days, but the new project will increase that to 20 - still far shorter than the 122 days supply that France stores.  
Daily Mail, 8 January 2009  

Iraq bans chemical weapons 

Iraq has become the 186th country to ban chemical weapons and sign the UN’s chemical weapons convention. Last year more than 42 per cent of the world’s declared stockpile of 78,000 tonnes of chemical warfare agents was destroyed. 
Associated Press, 13 January 2009